Media content localization across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) is expected to increase from USD 2bn this year to USD 2.5bn before 2020, according to research conducted on behalf of the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) Europe.

According to MESA, media content localization involves preparing TV, film and video titles ready for global distribution. Jim Bottoms, MESA Europe’s Executive Director, told Slator the market is covers subtitling, dubbing, video localization, and access services. Dubbing currently accounts for 70% of total spending, according to the MESA Europe report.

“There is a huge demand for content,” says Bottoms. “Some of it is new release, but a lot of it is is catalog or stuff that they thought would never sell again.”

Back catalog TV series and movie titles are finding new outlets and a new audience in regions where they haven’t been seen previously, as they are licensed by foreign channels to include in their programming to appeal to a particular demographic or age group.

“So, the program makers are suddenly finding that not only is there a huge demand for new release titles to go out to more and more markets. There is also a demand for getting some of their catalog product localized,” shares Bottoms.

MESA Europe noted that the strong growth in channels is also driven in part by so called over-the-top players OTT (i.e. content delivered over the Internet), which has opened up more opportunities for program makers to sell their titles into new markets.

Netflix, for one, ended the year 2016 with 93 million users, delivering about 150 million hours of streaming video per day. This was a year after the company announced the global rollout of its streaming service to 130 countries, which was previously available only in select countries. Amazon, meanwhile, made its Prime Video available in 200 countries in December 2016, competing head on with Netflix.

With the fast growing global demand for content, a shortage of talent has become one of the industry’s biggest challenges.

“Given the way the market is growing, there are already capacity shortages and this is likely to get worse in the short term,” explains Bottoms.

Of course, dubbing has been done for decades, but the current shortfall in talent is because of the massive growth as well as an indication that new talent isn’t coming through. As Bottoms points out, “In Germany in particular, the concern is that the talent is aging and perhaps younger people aren’t coming into the sector for whatever reason.”